The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, by John Mandeville

Chapter XXVIII

The Emperor of Persia, and of the Land of Darkness; and of Other Kingdoms that Belong to the Great CHAN OF Cathay, AND Other Lands of His, Unto the Sea of Greece

NOW, since I have devised you the lands and the kingdoms toward the parts Septentrionals in coming down from the land of Cathay unto the lands of the Christian, towards Prussia and Russia, — now shall I devise you of other lands and kingdoms coming down by other coasts, toward the right side, unto the sea of Greece, toward the land of Christian men. And, therefore, that after Ind and after Cathay the Emperor of Persia is the greatest lord, therefore, I shall tell you of the kingdom of Persia.

First, where he hath two kingdoms, the first kingdom beginneth toward the east, toward the kingdom of Turkestan, and it stretcheth toward the west unto the river of Pison, that is one of the four rivers that come out of Paradise. And on another side it stretcheth toward the Septentrion unto the sea of Caspian; and also toward the south unto the desert of Ind. And this country is good and plain and full of people. And there be many good cities. But the two principal cities be these, Boyturra, and Seornergant, that some men clepe Sormagant. The tother kingdom of Persia stretcheth toward the river of Pison and the parts of the west unto the kingdom of Media, and from the great Armenia and toward the Septentrion to the sea of Caspian and toward the south to the land of Ind. That is also a good land and a plenteous, and it hath three great principal cities — Messabor, Saphon, and Sarmassan.

And then after is Armenia, in the which were wont to be four kingdoms; that is a noble country and full of goods. And it beginneth at Persia and stretcheth toward the west in length unto Turkey. And in largeness it dureth to the city of Alexandria, that now is clept the Gate of Hell, that I spake of before, under the kingdom of Media. In this Armenia be full many good cities, but Taurizo is most of name.

After this is the kingdom of Media, that is full long, but it is not full large, that beginneth toward the east to the land of Persia and to Ind the less; and it stretcheth toward the west, toward the kingdom of Chaldea and toward the Septentrion, descending toward the little Armenia. In that kingdom of Media there be many great hills and little of plain earth. There dwell Saracens and another manner of folk, that men clepe Cordynes. The best two cities of that kingdom be Sarras and Karemen.

After that is the kingdom of Georgia, that beginneth toward the east to the great mountain that is clept Abzor, where that dwell many diverse folk of diverse nations. And men clepe the country Alamo. This kingdom stretcheth him towards Turkey and toward the Great Sea, and toward the south it marcheth to the great Armenia. And there be two kingdoms in that country; that one is the kingdom of Georgia, and that other is the kingdom of Abchaz. And always in that country be two kings; and they be both Christian. But the king of Georgia is in subjection to the great Chan. And the king of Abchaz hath the more strong country, and he always vigorously defendeth his country against all those that assail him, so that no man may make him in subjection to no man.

In that kingdom of Abchaz is a great marvel. For a province of the country that hath well in circuit three journeys, that men clepe Hanyson, is all covered with darkness, without any brightness or light; so that no man may see ne hear, ne no man dare enter into him. And, natheles, they of the country say, that some-times men hear voice of folk, and horses neighing, and cocks crowing. And men wit well, that men dwell there, but they know not what men. And they say, that the darkness befell by miracle of God. For a cursed emperor of Persia, that hight Saures, pursued all Christian men to destroy them and to compel them to make sacrifice to his idols, and rode with great host, in all that ever he might, for to confound the Christian men. And then in that country dwelled many good Christian men, the which that left their goods and would have fled into Greece. And when they were in a plain that hight Megon, anon this cursed emperor met with them with his host for to have slain them and hewn them to pieces. And anon the Christian men kneeled to the ground, and made their prayers to God to succour them. And anon a great thick cloud came and covered the emperor and all his host. And so they endure in that manner that they ne may not go out on no side; and so shall they evermore abide in that darkness till the day of doom, by the miracle of God. And then the Christian men went where them liked best, at their own pleasance, without letting of any creature, and their enemies enclosed and confounded in darkness, without any stroke.

Wherefore we may well say with David, A DOMINO FACTUM EST ISTUD; & EST MIRABILE IN OCULIS NOSTRIS. And that was a great miracle, that God made for them. Wherefore methinketh that Christian men should be more devout to serve our Lord God than any other men of any other sect. For without any dread, ne were not cursedness and sin of Christian men, they should be lords of all the world. For the banner of Jesu Christ is always displayed, and ready on all sides to the help of his true loving servants. Insomuch, that one good Christian man in good belief should overcome and out-chase a thousand cursed misbelieving men, as David saith in the Psalter, QUONIAM PERSEQUEBATUR UNUS MILLS, & DUO FUGARENT DECEM MILIA; ET CADENT A LATERE TUO MILLE, & DECEM MILIA A DEXTRIS TUIS. And how that it might be that one should chase a thousand, David himself saith following, QUIA MANUS DOMINI FECIT HAEC OMNIA, and our Lord himself saith, by the prophet’s mouth, SI IN VIIS MEIS AMBULAVERITIS, SUPER TRIBULANTES VOS MISISSEM MANUM MEAM. So that we may see apertly that if we will be good men, no enemy may not endure against us.

Also ye shall understand that out of that land of darkness goeth out a great river that sheweth well that there be folk dwelling, by many ready tokens; but no man dare not enter into it.

And wit well, that in the kingdoms of Georgia, of Abchaz and of the little Armenia be good Christian men and devout. For they shrive them and housel them evermore once or twice in the week. And there be many of them that housel them every day; and so do we not on this half, albeit that Saint Paul commandeth it, saying, OMNIBUS DIEBUS DOMINICIS AD COMMUNICANDUM HORTOR. They keep that commandment, but we ne keep it not.

Also after, on this half, is Turkey, that marcheth to the great Armenia. And there be many provinces, as Cappadocia, Saure, Brique, Quesiton, Pytan, and Gemethe. And in everych of these be many good cities. This Turkey stretcheth unto the city of Sachala that sitteth upon the sea of Greece, and so it marcheth to Syria. Syria is a great country and a good, as I have told you before. And also it hath, above toward Ind, the kingdom of Chaldea, that stretcheth from the mountains of Chaldea toward the east unto the city of Nineveh, that sitteth upon the river of Tigris; and in largeness it beginneth toward the north to the city of Maraga; and it stretcheth toward the south unto the sea Ocean. In Chaldea is a plain country, and few hills and few rivers.

After is the kingdom of Mesopotamia, that beginneth, toward the east, to the flom of Tigris, unto a city that is clept Mosul; and it stretcheth toward the west to the flom of Euphrates unto a city that is clept Roianz; and in length it goeth to the mount of Armenia unto the desert of Ind the less. This is a good country and a plain, but it hath few rivers. It hath but two mountains in that country, of the which one hight Symar and that other Lyson. And this land marcheth to the kingdom of Chaldea.

Yet there is, toward the parts Meridionals many countries and many regions, as the land of Ethiopia, that marcheth, toward the east to the great deserts, toward the west to the kingdom of Nubia, toward the south to the kingdom of Moretane, and toward the north to the Red Sea.

After is Moretane, that dureth from the mountains of Ethiopia unto Lybia the high. And that country lieth along from the sea ocean toward the south; and toward the north it marcheth to Nubia and to the high Lybia. (These men of Nubia be Christian.) And it marcheth from the lands above-said to the deserts of Egypt, and that is the Egypt that I have spoken of before.

And after is Lybia the high and Lybia the low, that descendeth down low toward the great sea of Spain, in the which country be many kingdoms and many diverse folk.

Now I have devised you many countries on this half the kingdom of Cathay, of the which many be obeissant to the great Chan.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 23:10